Setting a film shooting schedule is like putting together a large puzzle with the actors’ schedules being the pieces and complicating things is the fact that those puzzle pieces are also being demanded for other people’s puzzles. Often there has to be some give and take in order to get everyone available in the planned production time frame, the kind we’re seeing between Twentieth Century Fox and Lionsgate for the services of Jennifer Lawrence in two of the studios’ popular franchises.
Fox has just announced that their sequel to last summer’s X-Men: First Class will start shooting next January, allowing star Jennifer Lawrence to work on Lionsgate Hunger Games sequel Catching Fire this fall.
Fox had originally been eying a fall start for their own film and since Fox had Lawrence under contract for First Class for several months before she was cast in Hunger Games, they probably could have exerted some pressure on Lionsgate to go first. Lionsgate, for their part, wanted to “hold” all of their actors for the project for a length of seven months, which could have pushed the start for the First Class sequel back even further. But the Hollywood Reporter states that “complaints by interested parties, including Fox” caused them to shorten that demand to a more typical length.
Given the runaway box office success that Lionsgate is having with The Hunger Games, the studio is understandably anxious to get Lawrence back on the screen as heroine Katniss as soon possible. The studio still has to make a deal with director to return for the sequel though I would imagine that they’ll be announcing something on that front soon.
Lawrence will return as the young shape-shifting mutant Mystique for Fox’s X-Men: First Class follow up, and will be rejoined by the original film’s Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy. Director Matthew Vaughn is returning and Simon Kinberg is busily working on the screenplay. And don’t be surprised that her character might have a more prominent role in the ensemble film given her now higher box office cache.